Star Navigation looks to flight test mobile phone system early ’06
Mary Kirby, Philadelphia (02Nov05, 21:31 GMT, 358 words)
Canadian firm Star Navigation Systems hopes to be ready early next year to begin flight-testing new technology designed to enable commercial airline passengers to use GSM mobile phones and other wireless devices.
Company CEO Viraf Kapadia tells ATI that Star Navigation has “a design document done” which outlines the company’s plans.
Although specific details are not being disclosed, Kapadia can reveal that the solution will use pico cell technology. This controls and suppresses power emitted from mobile phones.
Additionally, he says, the system being developed “will not be dependent” on any one satcom provider, enabling the company to opt for “any sort of satellite system”, such as Iridium, Globalstar and Thuraya.
Looking to offer an “entire package” of inflight connectivity, Star Navigation is “planning on having the capability to use radio frequencies to access the Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to reduce cost”, adds the CEO.
Indian operator SpiceJet has agreed to become a partner in developing the system, and will be its launch customer. A formal contract between Star Navigation and SpiceJet is expected to be signed by November 30.
Kapadia says SpiceJet will be handling most of the licensing required for flight testing, which should be ready early in the New Year.
That will depend, however, on “what problems we encounter, how efficiently we solve them and how [quickly] we can bring the prototype out there”.
He adds: “It is conceivable that we might be doing prototype testing by the end of [this] year.”
Other satellite-based broadband systems are being proposed by the AeroMobile joint venture of Arinc and Telenor, and the SITA/Airbus joint venture OnAir.
Kapadia says Star Navigation’s competitors “want to achieve the same object”, but insists that the Canadian company “is thinking outside the box”
Star Navigation already lists SpiceJet as a customer for its inflight safety monitoring system (ISMS), and is installing the system across the Indian operator’s entire commercial fleet.
ISMS units continually relay information from more than 256 aircraft parameters including air pressure, altitude and speed, to a ground station automatically. If any of the tolerance levels are exceeded, ground staff is notified to allow a quick response.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news